Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Goodell Suspends Jones for season, Henry for 8 games

On Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the stiff suspension imposed upon Adam “Pacman” Jones (entire 2007 season) and Chris Henry (eight games). In his statement, Goodell emphasized, “It is a privilege to represent the NFL, not a right. These players and all members of our league have to make the right choices and decisions in their conduct on a consistent basis."

The PHSports contributors sound off on topics such as professional athletes serving as [unintended] role models, the image ramifications of poor behavior by NFL players, as well as comments on the disciplinary measures taken by the league office.

Pacman: Forbidden to "Make It Rain" for 2007 season

Photo courtesy: www.cantstopbleeding.com

As a youngster, I was the biggest Charles Barkley fan I knew. I loved his hustle on the court, and his humor off it. I was a homer in the truest sense. Nothing Barkley could do was wrong. Then came his, "I am not a role model" commercial, and as much as I struggled with my homerism, I knew deep in my heart that something wasn't right with that statement. I concluded that Charles was only half-right in the commercial. Parents should be role models, like he said. However, professional athletes don't have a choice. They are role models whether they like it or not.

The NFL is slowly becoming a haven for criminals. Of course, this is unfair to the majority of the NFL players who lead decent, non-criminal lives. However, one can see how the image of the league can be tainted by the few. These are the people that young athletes look up to. What kind of lesson are we teaching them if we continuously let these thugs get away without punishment, and let them continue to play a game that, at the professional level, is a privilege and not a right. This is why I stand and applaud Roger Goodell for handing down hefty suspensions to Adam "Pacman" Jones (full season) and Chris Henry (8 games). Goodell has thrown down the gauntlet. While Pete Rozelle fostered the success of the NFL and Paul Tagliabue cultivated it into a powerhouse among professional sports, Roger Goodell could very well be known as the man that cleaned the image of the league, making it the envy of professional sports.


In regard to the suspensions handed out by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, eight games for Bengals wideout Chris Henry and an entire season for Adam "Pacman" Jones of the Titans, for their ridiculous barrage of off-field incidents (and relative carelessness at the actual crimes they committed, and not being caught) … good riddance, for now.

Ironically enough, Pacman's suspension (who many claim is being punished before being proven guilty of the 'rain-man' incident - not that he didn't have any priors either) from the NFL may be the least of his problems these days.

In reference to the commissioner’s official statement from earlier today, I couldn't agree more. In fact, I think this is exactly what professional sports should be looking to undertake in all facets. I called for Chris Simon to miss an entire year. I didn't complain when Melo got 15 games, even though the instigators should've received similar lengths in their suspensions.

Interestingly, ESPN's Chris Mortensen dropped some rather surprising information on the Dan Patrick radio show today. He told Patrick that nearly 80% of the NFL Player Representatives (2-3 per team typically) discussed at their annual meetings that Pacman and Henry should receive potential 'lifetime bans'. This wasn't just talk on the golf course or by the swimming pool either.

NFL Players are clearly fed up with the reputation. Goodell's advisory committee most likely agreed with this ruling and probably wanted a stiffer penalty for Henry. They are tired of being labeled as thugs, gangsters, adulterers, and overall bad guys. I, for one, can't blame them. One bad apple can't spoil it for everyone. However, only when the Players, and specifically their Union, speak out publicly against situations and players acting like this will true progress be made.

My gut reaction hasn't changed since the talk of major suspensions, or potential bans, came out: strike them down swiftly and quickly. Great work, Roger. Mr. Upshaw, don't fight this too rigorously, or it will bite you and the players much more than you think.

Accountability. That is the single word which can be applied to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decisions to suspend Titans cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones for the entire 2007 season and suspend Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry for eight games. It is that same degree of accountability which should strike fear into current NFL players who would think of putting themselves in a position of danger.

No one can blame Goodell for these suspensions. Some have said that Goodell stripped the men of their livelihoods, but let’s be honest. They were stripping themselves eons before the commissioner’s office stepped in to resolve an issue. Both players have had it coming with poor conduct taking place long before they stepped on the professional gridiron, or even when both starred at West Virginia. Jones and Henry have a combined 4 years of NFL service, are in their early 20s and on a fast-track to either life in prison or an untimely death. In my eyes, Goodell’s decision did them both a favor.

The next few months are all about growing up for the two young men. Neither have done so yet and neither have shown any indication that they were on the verge of doing so until an intervention came via the one man who can cut them off permanently from their only legal way of making a half-decent living. This is the chance to make things right internally, as both men, especially Jones, have unresolved legal problems lying in wait.

As for the league, they must take responsibility for its players actions – and we realize that they are by the perception hit that the league takes – by improving its programs for new players. In fact, league offices from the major sports should make it their job to convene with another and develop a set of best practices in terms of maximizing player conduct. While this is no panacea, it’s a way of doing more to attack the root cause of the problem rather than simply suspending repeat offenders.

After all the time wasted by the NFL by handing out fines and suspensions for celebrations, it's nice to see some legitimate action by the league's front office. Adam "Pacman" Jones and Chris Henry have wasted the incredible opportunity afforded to them by life. Their conduct has eclipsed the whining of T.O., the cell-phone incident of Joe Horn, and the on-again, off-again relationship between Ricky Williams and pot ... combined.

Jones has been interviewed by police in relation to 10 different incidents since being drafted by the Titans 2 years ago. The man has more "heart-to-hearts" with the police than I have had with women. Henry, on the other hand, had 4 arrests over the course of 14 months. It's rumored that he was just logging visiting hours with inmates as part of the NFL's latest United Way campaign.

Ultimately, these two athletes earned what the NFL dished out to them. In a world where the days of professional athletes as positive role models has seemingly gone out the window, we need to combat any chance of them becoming destructive influences on children. Roger Goodell has already made himself a force to be reckoned with when it comes to disciplining players. The suspension of Albert Haynesworth took care of that. The new action against Jones and Henry was necessary. The NFL has a system in place for substance abuse, which calls for at least a year-long suspension after the third infraction. These two young athletes, while not officially breaking the substance abuse policy, acted as menaces to society apart from drug and alcohol abuse. Ten infractions in 2 years for Jones and 4 in 14 months for Henry. The suspensions doled out by Goodell were more than justified, and frankly, I think he could've given Henry a full year as well.

Let the iron-rule of Goodell continue as long as it's necessary to get the NFL back on track.

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